When Rachel Traurig and Josh Rothberger went on their first date, sparks didn’t fly. But 17 years and one case of Covid-19 later, the Modern Orthodox couple, who are in their 40s, got married in a backyard in Brooklyn amid masks and gloves and a coronavirus pandemic that had them scrambling to figure out logistics for an affair with few guests.
“You never know what will happen in the future and nothing is guaranteed,” said Josh, a grandchild of Holocaust survivors. “It didn’t make sense to wait anymore.”
Last October, on Simchat Torah, he pulled up a chair for Rachel at a synagogue, and they spoke about how she was handling the year of mourning for her father, who died last July. She frequented shuls on the Upper West Side, and in the dating world she’d seen the same people. But after some prodding from friends and rabbis, Rachel took action.
“I asked him out to ping-pong and ice cream,” she said. “He was such a perfect mensch. I started to have feelings for him.”
Josh, a public school teacher, had his doubts about the date, remembering how tough it had been to get her on the phone years before. But he soon saw her beauty, sensitivity and sense of humor. “As I got to know her, I fell in love.”
He proposed on March 15 at an Upper West Side Starbucks, and she accepted. Two days later, both of their workplaces were shuttered. Then, “the day after I proposed, I got coronavirus,” Josh recalled. “Thankfully, it was a very mild case, but we didn’t see each other for five weeks.”
Rachel, a social worker at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, said she heard rumblings about Covid-19 so she got her wedding dress early. The couple, who live in Brooklyn, had to scrap an initial plan to have the wedding in mid-April.
“Of course you want a big wedding and want everything to be as beautiful as possible,” she said. “But this is the world we’re in and we were able to Livestream it, so people from Israel could see. The important thing is that we are together, and I wish that everyone should be healthy and have happiness and find their bashert.”